Source Material vs Literature or Evergreen Notes?

I’ve only found one post dealing with source material in a Zettellkasten methodology using Obsidian. From what I understand, there seems to be two broad ways to deal with source material (web pages, articles, blog post, podcasts, videos, etc.) The first is to store the source material someplace else, like Zotero for pdfs or Notion for other media. The second is to pull the source material into Obsidian.

For pdfs, Zotero works great. However, using Notion as a Zettelkasten or as an adjunct to it is a bit cumbersome. So while I am open to a “store source material elsewhere,” I am a bit more curious about how you would pull the source material into Obsidian.

Since I am new to both Obsidian and Zettelkasten, pulling source material (“other people’s thoughts”) into Obsidian at first seemed like a violation of the Zettelkasten methodology. Then someone mentioned that Obsidian is a PKM platform, not just Zettelkasten, so that removed that barrier. But I am having a hard time wrapping my head around how one imports a 'whole lot of other people’s thoughts into Obsidian, then turning them into literature notes, and then distills that into evergreen or permanent notes.

As a physician, my two use cases would be a) creating a medical treatment notebook (multiple diseases with diagnoses, treatment, etc) and writing a nonfiction book in Obsidian, using information from several sources that are tied together using the Zettelkasten method. Is either of these possible?

Thanks in advance!


EDIT: I hit “post” while I was in the middle of drafting my response. Sorry about that.

For your first question about storing source material, here are some forum posts you may want to look at:

I’m sure you will find a lot of different opinions on where to store source material. Personally, I use Zotero to store the actual file and, if I feel so inclined, I paste a Zotero URI in the note. This allows me to click a link in Obsidian to launch Zotero which highlights the source document for me. Since I use Zotero as a file manager, I can double click the file to open it.

For your second question about Zettelkasten, there was a post on this forum recently where someone asked for basic guidance: Please ! Like explain a primary school student.

Finally, given your profession, you may want to keep snippets of the context of the studies and summary findings (also see a similar article here) within your vault along side your other notes.

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Thanks very much!

For completeness, and to augment Montblanc’s very useful links, here is the previous discussion on this topic I read earlier: Storing original webpage / source material

I have been struggling with this as well. For context practicing clinics physician, and my days of publishing are behind me. Have always used BrowZine through institution to keep up on key journals and then send to previously endnote (now zotero) to read and annotate. Key articles get saved in the reference manager. Have been trying to use zotero → md notes → obsidian to do similar task and it just doesn’t work.

I feel like it isn’t worth the hassle. At the end of the day quick reference back to zotero has been enough. The time it takes to make a note and link it seems amazing for back when I was researching and publishing but seems like a waste of time that could be spent seeing patients and actually being productive (rather than wasting time with this). I guess I’m not sure the value of clinical practice making your own vault with this info……UpToDate and dynamed are more complete for a quick wiki like reference….and ultimately source material is king when teaching trainees anyhow.

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